The Circular Staircase (Chapter 1, page 1 of 9)


 
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Chapter 1

This is the story of how a middle-aged spinster lost her mind, deserted
her domestic gods in the city, took a furnished house for the summer
out of town, and found herself involved in one of those mysterious
crimes that keep our newspapers and detective agencies happy and
prosperous. For twenty years I had been perfectly comfortable; for
twenty years I had had the window-boxes filled in the spring, the
carpets lifted, the awnings put up and the furniture covered with brown
linen; for as many summers I had said good-by to my friends, and, after
watching their perspiring hegira, had settled down to a delicious quiet
in town, where the mail comes three times a day, and the water supply
does not depend on a tank on the roof.

And then--the madness seized me. When I look back over the months I
spent at Sunnyside, I wonder that I survived at all. As it is, I show
the wear and tear of my harrowing experiences. I have turned very
gray--Liddy reminded me of it, only yesterday, by saying that a little
bluing in the rinse-water would make my hair silvery, instead of a
yellowish white. I hate to be reminded of unpleasant things and I
snapped her off.

"No," I said sharply, "I'm not going to use bluing at my time of life,
or starch, either."

Liddy's nerves are gone, she says, since that awful summer, but she has
enough left, goodness knows! And when she begins to go around with a
lump in her throat, all I have to do is to threaten to return to
Sunnyside, and she is frightened into a semblance of
cheerfulness,--from which you may judge that the summer there was
anything but a success.

 
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